A Heroine's Journey
Zezilia Ilar, the heroine of The Talented trilogy, has journeyed through three novels with me over a span of fourteen years. From the moment she first stepped into my head as a naïve fifteen-year-old young woman, I have poured a great deal of thought and energy into writing her story, even when I wasn’t actively writing it. Her trials of wrestling through everyone’s expectations of her were close to my heart when we were both young. Not a surprising choice of conflict considering the difficult transition from child to adult was part of my not-so-recent past back in 2006.
Many may not know this, but I wrote the first two novels between 2006 and 2009, finishing before my son turned three. Part of the reason those first two books took so long was because I discovered I couldn’t write while I was pregnant or in the sleep-deprived months that followed. However, I finished the project, which many of you would recognize as Seventh Born and The Defender.
Then, I set it aside. Torn between the idea of it being a first book in a series and the idea that it was a stand-alone novel that still needed an ending, I let the project sit for many years. I dug it out periodically and played with the idea of finishing it. However, each time I did, I found it hard to conceive of the story’s next chapter.
Then one day, a wonderful woman contacted me through a beta reading group. She expressed interest in reading my Living Sacrifice project. I handed it over. Little did I know that her comments would stir the fire in my soul again. Suddenly I knew I had to finish this story that I had carried with me through the years.
So, I backread, planned, and plotted. The characters started talking again. The Lord prodded me and convicted me that I needed to finish this story. I needed to publish it.
In 2014, I began writing what would become the conclusion of the trilogy. I didn’t finish until 2016. Then, yet again, I delayed. I wasn’t sure that anyone would really want my reluctant hero and heroine and their strangely fantastical world with far too many characters. But the Lord brought multiple people into my life who nudged me forward to the point that I knew for sure I needed to publish this story.
I often wonder why it took me so long to write this trilogy and publish it. Usually I write a book in a year and publish it a year or two later. The Lord had a plan, as He always does. I have since come to the realization that I hadn’t been ready to write the end of her journey when I stopped writing all those years ago.
When we began our journey, Zezilia and I, I was a young, married woman beginning to start a family. Now, my eldest son is about to be a teenager and will soon be Zez’s age. My marriage has matured and so have I, at least in some ways. Now, I understand even better the place in life Zez was in at the end of Living Sacrifice. She needed an ending that was realistic and complex, just like her journey. I needed the perspective of time to be able to write that for her.
The Talented trilogy’s theme, which I have learned many times over, is that God is never in a hurry and He is never late. The Lord has a plan and we all have our places in it. He requires us to seek His face and walk by faith no matter what trials may come.